SCOTLAND’S World Cup dream is hanging by a thread after a promising performance but ultimately frustrating result on a chilly evening at Scotstoun. They dominated large sections of the match, but couldn’t quite break clear of Spain’s sturdy defence, and they paid the price for a lack of composure at key moments.
They must now overturn a five point deficit in Madrid next Saturday if they are to make it to the big event in Ireland next August for the first time since 2010. It is a daunting task but head coach Shade Munro says that his team will go there believing that an upset is within their grasp.
“A performance like that is quite a step up. We could have scored two or three tries with a bit more composure. It’s basically half-time. We’ve got something to play for when we go over there. The important thing is that we know they are beatable,” he said.
Livewire full-back Chloe Rollie showed plenty of attacking intent throughout, although she may need to think about looking for the pass a bit more often. Having said that, it was her quick witted counter-attack which gave flyer Rhona Lloyd a chance to stretch her legs down the right touchline after fifteen minutes, but the 20-year-old couldn’t quite shake off the cover defence, and Scotland were shunted off the ball at the subsequent scrum.
By this stage, the hosts were already behind thanks to a Patricia Garcia penalty after ten minutes. Helen Nelson, who ended up with player-of-the-match award, took an ambitious shot at squaring things in the 18th minute with a 45 yard shot at goal, but her effort did not have the legs. However, the Scots continued to pressurise Spain and their hard work eventually paid off on the half hour mark when second-row Deborah McCormack showed plenty of pace to squeeze over in the corner.
Spain bounced back superbly, launching their own onslaught on the Scottish line with some crisp handling and purposeful running, and they recaptured the lead just before the break with a try from Vanesa Rial, with Gracia sending over the tricky conversion just a few yards in from the left touchline for good measure.
The second half started as the first half finished, with Spain grasping the whip hand, and Elena Redondo was twice held up over the line in quick succession, before Scotland’s gutsy midfield defence managed to scramble possession and press the pressure release valve.
A wonderful line-out dive saw Scotland work their way from inside their own half into the Spanish 22, and an effortless jink and half-break allowed Lisa Martin to send Rollie charging towards the line, but she was pulled down just short.
The lion’s share of the second half was a stalemate played out in the middle half of the park, although a mazy run from visiting full-back Barbara Pla did have Scottish hearts briefly fluttering.
Then, in the final ten minutes, the home team mounted a late charge at glory. Megan Gaffney strayed into touch as she dived for the line, but Scotland continued to press. Twice they kicked penalties to the corner, but they couldn’t turn that pressure into points.
Scotland: C Rollie; M Gaffney, L Thomson, L Martin, R Lloyd (E Sinclair 69); H Nelson, S Law (j Maxwell 58); H Lockhart (L Smith 38, K Dougan 73), L Skeldon, T Balmer, E Wassell, D McCormack (S Bonar 63), J Forsyth (R Malcolm 63), L McMillan, K Dunbar.
Spain: B Pla; M Casado (I Schiavon 69), V Rial (A Erbina 55), M Bravo, I Etxeberria; P Garcia, A Fernandexz; I Rico (I Macias 73), A Gonzalez, L Delgado (J Vinueza 40), M Ribera, E Redondo, D Gasso, P Medin, A del Pan (M Castelo 33)
Scotland: Try: Lloyd.
Spain: Try: Rial; Con: Garcia; Pen: P Garcia.
Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-3; 5-3; 5-8; 5-10 (h-t) no points in second half